Build a Sustainable Food Service

Foodservice operations, purchasing and communication to customers can have a huge and important impact on creating a food system that supports the health mission of the sector.  We encourage you to use the resources below to better understand these opportunities and develop a program that fits the unique food and agricultural landscape of your community.  

Changing the culture around health and food habits is one of the most difficult things to do. It is important to understand that it is a long journey...Changing culture is about chipping away at it one step at a time, always finding a new way to involve a new group of people. Many think that a ‘top down’ approach is always the best method. When support lacks in any area, the best advice is stir the pot and let it heat from the bottom, it doesn't matter where the heat and energy comes from, if there's enough, the pot will boil.

- Christa Byrd, Room Service Supervisor, Food and Nutrition Services, Sparrow Hospital, Lansing, Michigan

  • Sign the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge to show your commitment to improve the health of patients, communities, and the environment through your food service.
  • Get started with a Menu of Options and Creating Healthy Retail Food Environments in Health Care Facilities. Many healthcare institutions have begun to adopt practices and policies to support a healthy food system—one that is environmentally sustainable, improves nutritional quality and supports human dignity and justice. Following these case studies, your facility can improve the quality of food choices by choosing among the recommendations offered. 
  • Take the Healthier Hospitals Program Food Challenge at Practice Greenhealth. This free program is a great way to get started with resources and benchmarking for implanting Less Meat, Better Meat, and Local and Sustainable Food Purchasing.
  • Use the Green Guide to Plan and Benchmark Progress.

Green Guide for Health Care

The Green Guide for Health Care (GGHC) Food Service has been designed to help you plan and organize your work, track your progress implementing sustainable initiatives, and quantify your sustainable work (e.g., dollars spent on local products or pounds of sustainable beef purchased).  This section of the GGHC (a comprehensive best practices guide for healthy and sustainable building design, construction, and operations for the healthcare industry) includes detailed guidance on embedding sustainability into a hospital food service and allows users to track and score progress.  

The GGHC Food Service Credits Toolkit will help you in planning and tracking your HFHC work. The Toolkit contains templates, samples and tracking sheets specific to each of the credits in easy to use Excel Workbooks. 

Practice Greenhealth

Practice Greenhealth, HCWH’s sister organization, is the nation’s leading health care community that empowers its members to increase their efficiencies and environmental stewardship while improving patient safety and care through tools, best practices and knowledge. Join Practice Greenhealth to receive comprehensive guidance and support for developing your sustainable food service.